[ ik-stawr-shuh-ner-ee ]
/ ɪkˈstɔr ʃəˌnɛr i /
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characterized by or given to extortion.
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Origin of extortionary

First recorded in 1795–1805; extortion + -ary
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does extortionary mean?

Extortionary is an adjective used to describe things involving extortion—the act of using violence, threats, intimidation, or pressure from one’s authority to force someone to hand over money (or something else of value) or do something they don’t want to do.

Extortion and the verb extort are commonly used in this literal sense, but they can also be used in a few more general or figurative ways. Extortion can refer to the practice of overcharging someone for something or to obtaining something through relentless and unreasonable demands. These senses liken such actions to the actual crime of extortion.

Extortionary can be used to describe things that involve all of these senses of extortion. It can be used to describe practices that involve or resemble extortion or people or organizations that engage in extortion.

The similar adjective extortionate is most often applied to people or organizations that use extortion. A person who engages in extortion can be called an extortionist or an extortioner.

Example: These extortionary business practices seem like they were modeled on the mafia.

Where does extortionary come from?

The first records of the word extortionary come from around the early 1800s. Its base word, extort, ultimately comes from the Latin extortus, meaning “wrenched out,” from the verb extorquēre, “to wrest away,” from torquēre, “to twist.”

When a mobster walks into a shop and says, “Nice place you got here—it would be a shame if something happened to it,” they’re threatening to make bad things (destruction and violence) happen unless you pay them not to do those bad things. That’s extortion. Extortionary tactics can take a lot of different forms, including intimidation and threats like these or violence. Blackmail is extortionary. Sometimes, extortionary practices involve the abuse of power or authority to get money or favors from others. All of these kinds of extortion are serious crimes that can carry a lengthy prison sentence.

The word extortionary is also often used in a more general way. It’s especially used in the context of politics to criticize politicians for using methods that are similar to or that some consider to be extortion.

What’s the difference between bribery and extortion? Extortion is often the act of requiring a bribe from someone, or forcing someone to provide money or favors in some other corrupt way. Bribery typically refers to the act of bribing or the exchange itself.

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What are some other forms related to extortionary?

What are some synonyms for extortionary?

What are some words that share a root or word element with extortionary?

What are some words that often get used in discussing extortionary?

How is extortionary used in real life?

Extortionary can be used to describe criminal practices and it can also be used in a more figurative way.



Try using extortionary!

Which of the following actions is extortionary?

A. blackmail
B. theft by intimidation
C. abuse of power for favors
D. all of the above

How to use extortionary in a sentence